So why am I tired all the time? COVID-19 Edition

I don't know about you, but since Ohio's Stay At Home orders have been in effect, I've been feeling particularly exhausted. It's counter-intuitive ... because I'm doing less. Sure, I'm still working my regular job (fortunately!), but I don't go anywhere. I barely walk anywhere. (My fitness app can attest to that.)


So why am I tired all the time?

All things considered, I will come through this reasonably unscathed. While we have friends who have fallen gravely ill, no one in my immediate family has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Thankfully. It's just me and my husband at home, and it's a big enough place that we don't have to interact with each other during the workday. So far, so good. My kids are grown, so I'm not responsible for managing their education or keeping them entertained. We're pretty fortunate. While many of the organizations I work with are struggling to keep the doors open, none of my family members has been furloughed. Their jobs are secure. As an independent consultant, my income is most at risk. But I'll do OK. Both sets of parents--my husband's and my own--are deceased, so we aren't facing the fear and uncertainty of keeping them safe. All in all, we're doing all right.


So why am I tired all the time?


I confess all of the above with extreme empathy. I'm not bragging about how great I have it. On the contrary, I want people to understand that if I'm struggling -- someone who has it so easy -- we can expect that people who are going through even one of the above stressors must definitely be hanging on by a thread.


With all due respect to the Governor, we're not in this together--or, more accurately, we're not in this the same. Some of us are in it more than others. It is incumbent on each of us as leaders and managers to bring extreme empathy to every situation ... especially with the people who report to you.


Maybe you're aware of the stressor you're people are dealing with (i.e., Tariq has elderly parents, Melissa has a baby and 3rd grader, Malka's husband lost his job, etc.), maybe you're not. But you certainly don't know their ability to deal with stress. Each individual as a different stress tolerance.


So why am I tired all the time?


This is where this 7-minute video of Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs becomes relevant. The uncertainty everyone is facing in these extraordinary times is the epitome of what happens when our lower level needs, like security, are threatened. This article, Why am I so tired?, does a terrific job explaining the biology and physiology of stress and trauma.


As the article suggests, "focus on grace and self-compassion as you navigate this unprecedented time. Take a walk, take a bath, take a nap, take deep breaths, ask for help, help where you can, and know that whatever you are feeling is completely normal, and whatever you need to do to love on and care for you during this time is okay." That's not just good advice for you, but for your people, too. Give them space. Give them time. Treat them with extreme empathy.


It's not business as usual. It's business as best as we can.

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